Annus Horribilis

By David

So where do you start? The litany of corrupt behaviour coming out of Swimming New Zealand never stops. So now we have caught them advertising, what we can only assume is, David Lyles’ job on an Australian website. But has anyone heard of Lyles being sacked? Has anyone seen the job advertised in New Zealand? No of course not. I have no doubt Renford, Layton and Villanueva will be sitting back, patting themselves on the back wallowing in how tough they are – hiring and firing, leading the sport forward, clearing swimming of deadwood coaches, scouring the world for new coaching blood; the Kim Jong-uns of New Zealand swimming.

For years it has been the same story. When Miskimmin’s autocratic communist plans don’t work, sack the coach. Find someone who can prove Miskimmin right. It will never happen. The policy is wrong. Miskimmin is wrong. Layton, Villanueva and Renford are wrong. How many times does swimming have to go through the same drama before someone calls a halt to the madness?

That gang who run Swimming New Zealand are disgusting creeps. They will have sacked Gary Hurring and David Lyles on Christmas week for a reason. Members of Swimming New Zealand who should care about their organization shafting good people will be too busy with Christmas. By the time the presents are opened, the whiskey is drunk and the pudding is eaten SNZ’s disgusting behaviour will be in the past; a sad event but too late now to worry about.

Well that may be the case. The Regions of Northland, Auckland, Counties, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, HBPB, Manawatu, Nelson, Canterbury, Otago and Southland may well abdicate their responsibility to the sport and let the creeps who run SNZ get away with this behaviour, but Swimwatch will not. Every week I will remind New Zealand what Renford, Layton and Villanueva have done to two good coaches. Every week I will alert New Zealand to the morally bankrupt behaviour of those in charge.  As far as I am concerned shafting Lyles and Hurring is a step too far. It is the suits that should leave this sport, that’s Layton, Renford and Vilanueva. They have forfeited any call on our loyalty, friendship or cooperation.

And the swimming world is watching. Here is an email I got from a well-known coach in the United States when he heard about the SNZ abuse of David Lyles and Gary Hurring.

“sneaky – and in my country it might well be seen as  being illegal….not sure how the NZ federation has gone about this …you would imagine they’ve gone through proper legal procedure…  you can’t make someone set aside their job in that way without official dismissal on grounds x y and z after warning processes a, b and c… ? … You can make folk redundant but then you would have to wait 6 months minimum before you could reappoint for jobs deemed unnecessary/unsupportable…”

And the fact Renford, Layton and Villanueva advertised the Head Coach position only on an Australian employment website – is that relevant? I think it is. I think they have some Australian in mind; some Australian hard man or woman they think can come here and sort out their coaching mess. Perhaps they are going to bring Sweetenham back. Who knows? Who cares? Whatever their devious, hidden, little plan might be, it won’t work. The policy is wrong. And if they do employ a decent, honest coach let me warn him or her just as I warned David Lyles – this job, these people, this SNZ organization comes with a government health warning. Beware; stay well away; dangerous at any distance. I bet David Lyles wishes he had listened to that advice.

The man has just bought a house in Auckland. Clearly he intended to make a long term commitment to the sport of swimming in New Zealand. That was a really dumb thing to do. He was warned by Swimwatch. Miskimmin and his gang cannot to be trusted. Too late he has found out the value of that warning. If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

One does wonder whether any sane person is going to apply for this job. In seven years they have hired and fired or got rid of Jan Cameron, Thomas Ansorg, Mark Regan, David Lyles, Scot Talbot and Gary Hurring. That’s a coach a year. No one should buy a house on the basis of that job security record. No one, with any coaching standing, should even apply for a job with that employer. And if someone does, the consequences, after Rio, should not come as a surprise.

I mean just look at the sort of person they want. And remember they have already had Cameron, Ansorg, Regan, Hurring and Lyles who more than met their requirements but ended up not being good enough. Ask yourself, is yet another quality person going to fall for their three card trick? Is there a General Eisenhower out their prepared to work for Kim Jong-un? Because that is what this position requires.

Here is what SNZ want – “an outstanding candidate with substantial experience in a world class high performance swimming programme with extensive coaching experience at World and/or Olympic level.” Every coach in the world with that background will have heard the SNZ horror stories by now. Especially when SNZ’s next demand says, “the ideal candidate is well connected internationally and has strong and credible relationships with key individuals in those programmes.” All coaches that are “well connected internationally” have heard about New Zealand’s North Korean swimming regime. When I coached in Florida the chaos of swimming in New Zealand was a regular topic of poolside chat. Doesn’t SNZ realize that good coaches read the SwimVortex and Swimming World websites? They have read about the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre lie. They know about the revolving door of good coaches. They know that SNZ wrote a glowing reference for a multiple drink driving employee. They are acutely aware that SNZ cannot be trusted.

But SNZ ask for even more. The person they are looking for will need to be, “a dynamic leader with energy and an ability to swiftly build relationships and credibility with international level athletes.” I’m not sure who they are referring to. Boyle is in Australia, Snyders is in California, Main is in Florida, Stanley is in Matamata or Australia, two or three others train at the North Shore Club and Radford is in Australia. Perhaps Renford means that little girl he saw last week blowing bubbles under water for the first time.

And still it goes on. The new coach evidentially has to be “comfortable being measured by your results.” Wow oh wow; the ultimate do as I say not as I do. Look in the mirror Miskimmin, Layton, Renford and Villanueva. Swimming New Zealand’s performance is down to you guys. You have successfully blamed coach after coach but the buck stops with you. Your performance stinks.

And finally SNZ say they require “a resolute coach with innate capacity to lead New Zealand’s leading elite swimmers and coaches in a demanding high performance environment.” That suggests they want some bastard who is as hard as nails; someone with a history of running over opposition; someone well practiced in the art of North Korean politics. I still think they are chasing Bill Sweetenham.

This story has legs. After Christmas we will continue to work for the destruction of the current SNZ regime. But until that happy hour –